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Katsunori Hamanishi has chosen a very labor-intensive printing technique - mezzotint. And he masters this technique like nobody else. For this internationally known and renowned artist it is the ideal method to realize his surrealistic or abstract images in photo-realistic precision.
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Katsunori Hamanishi was born on Hokkaido island - Japan's second largest island. In 1973 he finished his studies at Tokai University in Kanagawa prefecture. In 1987 and 1988 he studied at the University of Pennsylvania with a grant by a US cultural institution.
At that time Katsunori Hamanishi was already a respected artist who had received prizes at renowned international exhibitions.
Mezzotint is a printing technique developed in Europe in the 16th century. Mezzotint requires a lot of time and perseverance. In this regard it is equal to the traditional Japanese woodblock carving technique.
Mezzotint is an intaglio printmaking technique. Its great advantage is in achieving tonal gradations.
First the copper plate is roughened evenly with a tool called 'rocker'. Then the image is drawn with a burnisher (for the light areas) and a scraper (for the dark areas).
The mezzotint technique has a limitation in the number of impressions that can be pulled from one plate. Not more than 200 hundred good impressions are possible. Katsunori Hamanishi's edition size is usually from around 30 to 100.
What looks like the result of a photo-mechanical printing process is in reality the fruit of an all hand-made and tedious creation process. Katsunori Hamanishi has taken the mezzotint technique to new heights. Today he is the uncontested master in this genre.
Katsunori Hamanishi is at home both in the traditional Japanese as well as in western art history. But his subjects are taken from the Japanese tradition.
The artist's favorite themes are objects that can be shown in three-dimensional view like ropes, plants, twigs of a tree. It looks like the artist chooses the most difficult objects to demonstrate his mastership. The ropes shown here on this page are a good example.
The more recent works of Hamanishi have some additional luxury features like applications of gold, silver, copper and lead foils.
Over many years of creating art prints, Katsunori Hamanishi by and by moved from photo-realistic, figurative images to abstraction. As with Kandinsky, the father of modern, abstract art, there was no abrupt change from one day to another, but it was rather a slow and natural approach.
rp (September 2007)
(edited and updated by Dieter Wanczura, May 2009)
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